Phoenix City Council Should Take Uber, Lyft Threat To Leave Seriously
Every law student learns an old lawyer's line: "If the facts are on your side, pound the facts; if the law is on your side, pound the law; if neither are on your side, pound the table." It appears the overwhelming majority of Phoenix City Council is doing the latter.
In a 7-2 vote Wednesday, they approved a more than 200 percent fee increase on all rideshare users heading to and from the airport. And the fee rises in subsequent years. By 2024, Uber and Lyft riders are looking at $10 round trip before the driver shifts gears. Currently, it is $2.66 pick-up fee. Uber and Lyft say they are going to stop servicing the airport.
Not only is this not fact friendly to the cost of your transportation to the airport, but the fee structure appears to be in direct violation of Arizona's constitution. Less than a year ago, more than 1.4 million people voted in favor of Proposition 126. It prohibits the state or its political subdivisions like Phoenix City Council from imposing any new fees on services like rideshare. A lawyer for the Goldwater Institute made this argument to the city council this week.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego's response: "We deserve the same fees that every other airport gets. We are not a city running on the cheap."
Not only is this statement irrelevant because other cities operate under different laws, it is not accurate in all cases. Reuters reported Uber and Lyft passengers will be charged $2.50 for rides originating and ending at New York City area airports. Phoenix passengers face $4.00 each way.
If it is about paying your fair share, why are traditional taxi fees getting lower? They're dropping from $2.66 to $1.75 for pick-up and drop-off.
Who determines what is fair anyway? According to antitrust law, which admittedly doesn't apply to government, what is best for the consumer, or in this case the rider, should win.
And what exactly are rideshare companies paying for? Uber and Lyft drivers operate in the same way any family member does when dropping off or picking up a loved one at the airport curb. Rideshare drivers are requested while they are off property; unlike taxi drivers, who use the property to garner their next customer.
Seven Phoenix City Council members seem to be forgetting that constituents and visitors repeatedly choose Uber and Lyft over other transportation services. They think they know best.
You know what Uber and Lyft executives know? The facts, law and hand pounding are all on their side in Arizona.